Infernal Hours

Lucas blinked several times as his mind shook off the nap. The train was much more crowded than it was when he drifted off to sleep. A crowd of passengers stood in front of him waiting patiently to leave the train.

“Did she say Hell?” Lucas mumbled to himself. He looked up and noticed a young woman in black jeans and a green hoodie in front of him. The hood was down and she seemed to have a skin condition that left her skin dry and red, though her bright orange hair covered most of her face. She was the only other passenger that wasn’t talking to someone. Lucas jumped out of of his seat and got in the exit line next to her.

“Did she say Hell?” he asked her. By the time he asked her the question he had already dismissed the announcement as part a forgotten dream. However, he used it as an opening to speak to the woman. The woman looked up at him; Lucas used every ounce of willpower to keep from jumping back in surprise.

Her skin consisted of dark red scales. She had grey, cloudy eyes that scanned Lucas up and down with a combination of amusement and annoyance. She made Lucas feel like a child that had asked for something one time too many. Then, she made up her mind and looked forward again; the line moved a step.

“When you get out, turn left on the platform,” she said. Despite facing forward Lucas assumed the instructions were for him. “Go into the Burning Star bar and tell them you’re lost.” 

“I’m lost?” he asked. She nodded, then turned to face him.

“You’re in Hell. Did you want to be?” she asked. Lucas quickly shook his head.  His eyes flitted to the top of her head and he noted a tiny pair of obsidian nubs mostly hidden by her orange hair.

“You’re a demon!” he shouted and leaped into the seat behind him.  Everyone else in the line turned to face him and laughter rolled through the crowd; they were all demons. The woman he talked to stepped toward him with an outstretched hand.

“C’mon guy, let’s get you sorted,” she said.  Lucas tried to shrink back into his seat but he had nowhere left to go.  The woman sighed and turned toward the front of the line. “LOST LAMB!” she shouted. Immediately the crowd parted giving Lucas a clear path to the exit. He hesitated. The red woman forcibly grabbed his hand; she pulled him off the seat and onto his legs with surprising strength.

“Listen, we don’t want you here anymore than you want to be here,” she said. She dragged Lucas for about two feet before he realized he didn’t stand a chance of escaping. Once he stopped fighting her he started receiving encouraging pats on the back and smiles from the demons that were letting him by. Lucas’ parents raised him to be courteous. When he reached the exit he turned around to see the line coming back together; everyone took the same place they had with no arguing.

“Thank you!” he shouted into the crowd. He expected an odd ‘you’re welcome’. Instead, the whole car-full of demons replied.

“GOOD LUCK!” They shouted.

“There’s the bar,” the woman said. She pointed to a narrow doorway between two tall obsidian buildings. A red wooden sign over the entrance said, “Burning Star”.  “Thanks for getting me to the front of the line,” she added. She patted Lucas on the shoulder then turned to walk away.

“Hey!” Lucas called. “Is this really Hell?” he asked. She stopped, turned around and nodded.

“Yeah, with Satan and everything.”

“Why is everyone so nice?” he asked. The woman smiled and winked at him.

“They’re either out of work or on their way to work. Either way, they’re off the clock.”

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